As life circumstances change, it’s important to periodically review and modify estate planning documents to ensure that they continue to meet your needs and goals. One commonly used estate planning tool is the living trust, which allows individuals to pass assets to their heirs while avoiding the time and expense of probate. But what happens when you need to make changes to your living trust? Here are some reasons to modify a living trust and how to do it.
Reasons to Modify a Living Trust
1.Changes in Family Circumstances
The birth or adoption of a child, the death of a family member, divorce, or remarriage can all affect your estate plan. It may be necessary to update your living trust to include new beneficiaries or remove those who have passed away or are no longer part of your life.
2. Changes in Asset Ownership
If you acquire or dispose of assets after creating your living trust, it’s important to ensure that those assets are properly titled in the name of the trust. This can help avoid probate and ensure that your wishes are carried out.
3. Changes in State Laws
Laws related to estate planning and taxes can change over time. It’s important to periodically review your living trust to ensure that it remains in compliance with the laws of the state in which you reside.
4. Changes in Personal Wishes or Goals
Your personal wishes or goals for your estate may change over time. For example, you may want to change the distribution of assets among beneficiaries or change the trustee responsible for managing the trust.
How to Modify a Living Trust
If you need to modify your living trust, the process will depend on the specific changes you want to make. In general, there are three ways to modify a living trust:
1. Amend the Trust
If you need to make minor changes to your living trust, such as adding or removing beneficiaries or changing the trustee, you can do so through an amendment. An amendment is a legal document that modifies specific provisions of the trust while leaving the rest of the document intact.
2. Restate the Trust
If you need to make more significant changes to your living trust, such as changing the distribution of assets or adding new provisions, you may need to restate the entire trust. This involves creating a new trust document that replaces the existing one.
3. Create a Codicil
If you have a living trust that is part of a larger estate plan that includes a will, you may be able to make changes to the trust through a codicil. A codicil is a legal document that amends specific provisions of the will and can be used to modify the living trust.
Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney
Modifying a living trust can be a complex legal process, so it’s important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that the changes you make are legally valid and enforceable. An attorney can help you identify the best way to modify your living trust based on your specific needs and goals.
If you’re in the St. Charles, Missouri area and looking for guidance on modifying your living trust, the team at Polaris Estate Planning & Elder Law is here to help. Our upcoming workshop on estate planning and elder law is a great opportunity to learn more about the process and how we can help. Contact us today to register for the workshop and schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.